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Our first Acadian governor-general goes postal

1. Honoring Romeo LeBlanc. A new stamp in honour of the late governor-general is being unveiled today at Rideau Hall. Mr. LeBlanc passed away last June at 81, and had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. He was the first Acadian to serve in the post.

Fittingly, the new stamp features the late vice-regal's portrait (painted by Christian Nicholson, a fine arts graduate from Mount Allison University in Mr. LeBlanc's constituency) as well as three flags - Canada, New Brunswick (his home province) and the Acadian flag.

A former minister in the Trudeau cabinet, he was appointed to the post by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Monday is the 15th anniversary of the day he became the 25th governor-general of Canada.

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2. It's the economy, stupid. The Prime Minister's Office is wasting no time this morning trying to trump the opposition in getting out its message, saying Stephen Harper is a competent economic manager and his so-called Economic Action Plan is working.

A memo issued from the PMO just after 7:30 a.m. to MPs and Tory officials notes that Statistics Canada employment figures released this morning, showing employment in Canada increased by 43,000 jobs in January, are "considerably better than market expectations of a 15,000 job increase."

"Today's numbers confirm that Canada's Economic Action Plan is working," the memo says.

The note came as International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan was poised to announce the new plan to ease Buy American trade restrictions.

But the PMO is always cautious in its glee: "While Canada is weathering current global economic challenges better than nearly every other industrialized country, our recovery remains fragile."

The memo says that the government is entering Phase Two of the action plan having identified three priorities: "rolling out the remaining stimulus projects across the country; planning for deficit reduction once the economy has recovered; and building a strong foundation for job creation and economic growth."

3. Nunavut in February, eh? Another set of talking points issued by the PMO explain to Tory supporters and MPs exactly why Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is hosting to his G7 counterparts in Iqaluit today and tomorrow - it's about the seal hunt and underscoring Canada's sovereignty in the North.

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"We hope that this visit will help out guests gain a better understanding of important issues like northern development, Canada's Arctic sovereignty, as well as the cultural and economic importance of the seal hunt to Canada's Inuit population."

This is interesting given a senior Finance official, who briefed reporters earlier this week, said there was no hidden agenda to holding the meeting in country's most northern capital city.

He said Canada "is not trying to prove something" about the seal hunt to the European ministers who are attending. A European Union seal-product ban will take effect later this year.

(As well, there is also ongoing controversy about who controls the Arctic; the Russians are trying to stake a claim in the North and Canada has been pushing back aggressively.)

Rather, the Finance official, the meeting is about trying to bring the G77 back to its roots - allowing for cozy, informal but very frank fireside chats away from the distractions of the big cities.

The PMO talking points tell a slightly different story - this meeting is all about showcasing and emphasizing the North: "This weekend, G7 Finance Ministers will meet in Iqaluit, where they will have an opportunity to witness first-hand the way of life of northern Canadians," the email memo says.

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Among the other points the PMO wants to emphasize are: "Our government is working to protect and preserve the way of life for Canada's North; Canada's North has a key role in the strong future of our nation; Our government … looks forward to helping the world gain a better understanding of Canada's northern culture."

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his colleagues are to go dogsledding today before they actually get into the fine points of the financial future of the world.

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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